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Charles P. Witt Jr. appointed as new Columbia fire chief

Wednesday, March 2, 2011 | 6:10 p.m. CST; updated 6:27 p.m. CDT, Saturday, April 9, 2011

COLUMBIA — City Manager Bill Watkins announced Wednesday the appointment of Charles P. Witt Jr. as Columbia's new fire chief.

Witt's appointment will take effect on Sunday. He replaces Fire Chief William H. Markgraf, who will retire on Saturday. He will earn an annual salary of $115,000, a car allowance and other authorized employee benefits, a news release stated.

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In the release, Witt said it was "a humbling honor" to be appointed to the position.

"I'd like to see a continuation of the things we do well," Witt said. But he added that he was also beginning "to map out a road map for the future of excellence in the Columbia Fire Department."

According to the release, Watkins and a community advisory committee were responsible for selecting the fire chief. Three other finalists were considered — Gary W. Birch, Jeffrey A. Grote and Thomas E. Solberg.

"We had a good group to choose from," Watkins said in the release. "But I got strong, positive feedback from committee members and several Fire Department employees on Chuck's commitment to citizens, employees and the organization."

"I have no doubt that Chuck really wants this position and wants to make a difference," Watkins said in the release.

According to a previous Missourian report, Witt's experience includes working at the Sullivan Fire Department in 1977, working as a firefighter with the Boone County Fire Protection District in 1983 and transferring to the Columbia Fire Department in 1986. He became deputy fire chief in 2004.

Witt earned an associate degree in business management from East Central College in Union, according to the release.

Witt is married to Nancy Smarr-Witt and has two children, Brandon and Patrick, the release stated.


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